Paddling in a Winter Wonderland

ADF Setting out for the parade

In December it was time once again for the lighted yacht parade. Since the DragonFlyers first parade experience was deemed a success, it was agreed that we would do it again. This time with a bit more planning and the experience of one parade to enlighten us. 

First thing that was resolved was that we would not make the full parade loop past Jack London Square. Last year we learned that making the loop left us with a long paddle home in the dark. And this time our team leaders focused in on entering a boat that embraced the theme of the parade, “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.”

I thought the outcome was truly inspired. 

The paddlers were all to wear snowman, penguin or Christmas tree hats and oversized long-sleeved white tee-shirts OVER their PDFs. The result was a squad of paddlers with perfect snowmen bodies. 

For the boat, Dick and Sandra took things to the next level. For the first year, we but LED lights along the gunwale. This time, they rigged a line the length of the boat suspended on tall poles from the bow and tail of the boat and, again, here comes the inspired part, hung a curtain of small white lights. Looked just like falling snow when we were underway. 

There were also feature lights at the head and the tail of the boat. Paddlers once again wore lighted head and arm bands as we did year one. 

A few weeks out from the parade, I was troubled to hear that Brett, who sat up front in the boat and led us the year before, had another commitment that night and would not be coming. When I asked who was going to lead the boat, he responded, “Maybe someone who knows how to sing and can lead the paddlers in carols,” this was a reference to my rendition of the national anthem at the Victoria race earlier in the year. “And,” he added, “ maybe someone who has a dragon boat blog.”

So I was recruited. The boat didn’t have the drumming chair affixed, and it was a challenge to site at the front straddling the pole holding up the lights in place. But, luckily, I’m small. I had created a playlist of Christmas carols, heavy with various versions of ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland’ on my iPhone, but when we got to the dock we realized we didn’t have a compatible speaker. 

But we could sing. Dick had printed out the lyrics to Winter Wonderland, and I brought a cheat sheet with the words to other caroling favorites. 

Once again it was a fun night out on the water. We saw our friends the Renegades, the kayakers, and I think even a SUP. The only downsides were that one of the strokers was dressed for weather about 20 degrees colder than it was; the light on the dragon head kept craping out; and a couple of times I started a song in a key that too high for the majority of the paddlers. 

I never thought I would sing Walking in a Winter Wonderland that many times. But all of our efforts paid off… we won the prize for best boat in the “other” category! There weren’t medals, but there was a nifty cash prize that went into the team’s kitty.